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Episode 40: Viv Albertine

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Viv Albertine Photographed by David Corio, 1980

This week we bring you the incredible story of Viv Albertine which begins with the birth of punk rock in England.

As a fashion student at the Chelsea School of Art she began dating Mick Jones (who would shortly form his band The Clash) and made friends with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. When McLaren invited her out to see The Sex Pistols perform, Viv’s life would change forever. Dreaming of a music career since she was a child, she now saw in punk rock a bridge to her dream. Viv got a guitar and formed a band with her new best friend Sid Ritchie (you may know him as Sid Vicious) and began creating her own unique sound. When Sid left to join The Sex Pistols,Viv found her place in the kick ass all girl punk band The Slits. They would go on to record 2 albums and tour with punk icons such as The Buzzcocks, The Clash and Subway Sect.

Viv’s relationship with Mick didn’t last (nor did her fling with New York Doll Johnny Thunders) but made rock n roll history when it ended up as material in songs like The Slits’ Ping-Pong Affair and The Clash’s classic Train in Vain. After The Slits broke up, Viv focused her talents on film directing many music videos for a new channel called MTV as well as working in tv with the BBC.

She married and became a mother burying her musical side until Vincent Gallo came into her life. Their friendship was “like a secret door being opened again to a world I left a long time ago.” Their conversations reignited a spark in Viv and in 2009 she began performing again, this time as a solo artist. Viv recounts her punk rock journey in her incredible memoir Clothes, Music, Boys as well as her battle with cancer, her struggles trying to become a mother and her search for identity outside the roles of “wife” and “mother”.

The punk spirit lives on in Viv. In 2016 she “defaced” a male-focused punk exhibit at the British Library, taking a pen and adding in all the incredible female musicians who were at the forefront of punk. She also has a song called Confessions of a MILF!